Christmas basket fund eases pain of poverty

Commercialized holiday season “gets people down,” volunteer says



Not everyone feels comfort and joy at Christmas.

It’s also a time of hunger and despair for many who feel the ache of poverty during the holiday season, something the annual community Christmas basket fund in Iqaluit has been trying to change for 23 years.

Since 1983, the Christmas basket fund has spread holiday cheer by donating 200 baskets to needy families around Iqaluit.

This year’s packaging and delivery, coordinated by the Rotary Club, takes place Saturday at 10 a.m.

Last year, $15,745 was raised and 200 baskets were given out. This year, about $8,500 has been collected as of Dec. 6 for next year’s basket drive. The Rotary Club hopes to eventually raise $20,000.

The organization has all the funding they need to pull off this year’s basket drive, said Susan Spring, an organizer of the event.

“What we’re doing is getting ready for next year.”

Cheques for the fund come in all through the year. One business made a $2,500 donation, Spring said, adding it speaks well of the community and the event.

“It’s something that everybody can participate in. It’s a good event.”

Carol-Anne Scott, the spokesperson for Iqaluit’s Salvation Army, said Christmas can be a difficult time for people who live in poverty.

The constant bombardment of advertising telling people to buy, buy, buy is difficult for folks who can’t even afford to feed themselves or their families.

“The commercialized part of Christmas gets them down,” Scott said.

There’s a special need for charity at this time of year, she said, adding Iqaluit families in need during the Christmas season can get in touch with her at the Iqaluit Salvation Army for help.

Spring said the response from people on the receiving end of the Christmas baskets has been good. “It seems to be really overwhelmingly happy.”

People with vehicles who want to volunteer can drop in at the Cadet Hall Saturday morning. Even if you don’t have a vehicle, Spring said, “all help is gratefully accepted.”

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